Published: 16:48, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 17:37, 13 January 2021
Queuing patients waiting for a Covid-19 vaccination has led to calls for the NHS to ramp up its efforts to open more centres.
GP practices face the challenge of running vaccination clinics alongside ongoing care and treatment for patients as a Gravesham GP urged for patience with more sites "in the pipeline".
Gravesham MP Adam Holloway visited the Fleet Health campus clinic, one of the designated vaccination sites in Northfleet, and posted pictures of long queues forming outside.
The health centre is running clinics by invitation only seven-days-a-week, between 8am and 8pm.
It forms part of the latest phase of the vaccine roll-out co-ordinated by GP-led primary care networks (PCN).
It is hoped this strategy will see at least one million adults in the county receive the jab with priority to be given to all residents in a care homes, the over 70s and frontline health and social care workers first.
A total of 14 additional centres are being opened in the second and third phases, with another at Dartford Football Club's Princes Park among the latest to open on Monday.
It comes amid growing efforts to ramp up the programme as England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warns the country has not yet seen "the worst" of the pandemic.
Although he added the vaccine roll out offered hope that lockdown restrictions may be lifted in the coming months.
But there has already been calls to increase the number of sites available.
Mr Holloway said: "I do feel we need to move faster, and to stop people standing in cold queues.
"We need to decentralise and use all the sites that can be available - speed is of the essence.
“Now that we have more and more vaccine available we should increase the number of sites. "Practices tell me they can do it and want to do it."
Meanwhile, Dr Manpinder Sahota, whose Pelham Medical Practice patients are being vaccinated in Building A at the Fleet Campus, says his surgery will be lending more staff members to aid with the roll out efforts in the coming days.
The GP, who himself was vaccinated as a frontline worker last week, said he had been inundated with messages from concerned patients and family members waiting for the vaccine call-up.
But he urged people not to panic and to remain patient in the assurance they too will get their turn soon.
"It's all happening," he said. "I just have to tell people to be patient because they are working through the list as quickly as they possibly can.
"The aim is to have all the over 80's vaccinated in the next four to six weeks so they can go down to the next age group.
In the meantime the doctor urged people to stick to the rules and avoid social contact wherever possible.
"People have to just stick with the current safety measures now with the social distancing," he said.
"There is light at the end of the tunnel and their friends should be saying to them I've got my vaccination you'll be on the list soon."
Dr Sahota also hinted at the possibility of expanding the current number of vaccination centres, with more likely to be "in the pipeline".
The GP explained there was "order and a process" to the current roll out which is being collectively arranged by the Gravesend Alliance primary care network.
But he expects once the Fleet Campus reaches "capacity" the NHS could soon look to and approve other nearby locations to aid with the vaccination programme.
"I'm sure they will be reaching out to other local places saying look we need to get things going more locally as well," he said. "That will probably be in the pipeline."
A spokesman for NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The NHS across Kent and Medway is working hard to establish vaccination services for all areas.
"The vaccination service for more than 90% of our 200 GP practices have now been confirmed.
"If further locations are added to the vaccination programme, there will be updates on our website and they will be included as part of the direct invitations for people when the vaccine is available to them.”